From the briefing:
The first Bush Administration did a lot to spotlight the significance of the relationship to India, building on some work that had been done in the Clinton Administration. And that culminated in some things like, in 2004, the announcement of the next steps and strategic partnership, export controls, high-tech cooperation. This year the Administration made a judgment that the next steps and strategic partnership, though very important, wasn't broad enough to really encompass the kind of things we needed to do to take this relationship where it needed to go, and so the President and the Secretary developed the outline for a decisively broader strategic relationship.This sounds like the F16's were a sop to keep the Pakistanis happy while the US was courting their big neighbor/rival.
Secretary Rice presented that outline last week to Prime Minister Singh. Its goal is to help India become a major world power in the 21st century. We understand fully the implications, including military implications, of that statement.
Donnelly claims that the a "U.S.-India strategic partnership, if fully developed, would be the single most important step toward an alliance capable of meeting the 21st century's principal challenges: radical Islam and rising China".
Well, momentous stuff. If this came to pass, then India would become the US's most important ally. Not Britain. Not the EU. Not Canada. Not Japan.
Today's Christian Science Monitor describes it as a bold, but not risk-free move.